Kiwassa Neighborhood house is a bustle of bright colors, and the happy squealing noises of children. When you open the door to the Family Place Room, where The East Side Power Mamas (ESPMs) meet every Monday, you’re greeted by a table full of smiling young women with babies and toddlers, and a spread of crackers, banana slices and yogurt cups.
Her past is not her destiny
Destiny is 22, and her daughter Tatiana (who shares the name of the program’s facilitator) is 18 months old. Destiny is bright and articulate, and she’s clearly committed to providing a good life for her child despite the challenges she faces. “Tatiana’s father is not around,” she explains. Destiny tried to go after him through the courts, but he has no fixed address to serve the papers. She has tried to contact Tatiana’s father’s parents through Facebook, but no luck. “It’s not money I’m after,” she says, “I just want her to be acknowledged by them.” She says this matter-of-factly, displaying maturity beyond her years. “I don’t want to overwhelm her grandparents. This would be very shocking for them, but I want them to know she exists.”
Destiny was raised by a single mom on Vancouver’s east side. She and her five siblings moved around a lot as kids, living in transition houses to escape her mom’s violent relationships. “My mom struggled with her own issues, but she never gave up on us kids. My friends were in and out of foster care, and everyone’s parents had trouble with alcohol – that was normal to us. But I want to provide Tatiana with a healthier lifestyle.”
hat’s part of the reason she comes to East Side Power Mamas. “There was a time when I was really struggling, and this group saved me.” Destiny is now employed as a Youth Worker at the Urban Native Youth Association, where she works graveyard shifts so she can spend days with her daughter.
“I try to come every week, it gives me a chance to relax,” Destiny says. “There are so many resources here – from diapers and formula, to advice on relationships, to help finding housing. But the best thing is on days like today, when things are feeling hard and I need the positive energy, I leave here and I feel so much better.”
Angels for Angelica
Angelica’s two-month-old son Lennox sleeps peacefully in the arms of the ESPM facilitator Tatiana Wong. Angelica doesn’t mind leaving him for a few minutes to talk, she’s knows he is in good hands. East Side Power Mamas is Angelica’s second home: “These women are my friends. We would do anything to help each other, we are like a family.” Angelica has been coming to Kiwassa Neighborhood House since she was a child—she even volunteered at East Side Power Mamas as a high school student. When she became pregnant at 18 she joined ESPM as a participant.
Angelica explains that ESPMs is an inclusive and non-judgmental program, where everyone is treated with love and support, which is exactly what she needed to get grounded. She used to be a party girl, and wasn’t ready to be a mom, financially or emotionally. “I had to drop out of high school, but now that Lennox is born I’m going to finish, and then take a program at Langara College to become a teacher for special needs kids.” Once her son is older, she says she will also come back to ESPMs to volunteer. “I can count on them anytime. When I’m here, my other problems don’t exist.” East Side Power Mamas received support from CLICK and also receives funding from other foundations. They are continuously
looking for ways to ensure the program is sustainable.
ESPMs provides food, clothing, bus tickets, parenting and health resources, and referrals to food banks, domestic violence workers, and public health nurses for young mothers under the age of 22. Donations made to CLICK are distributed to organizations like ESPMs, who apply for funding each year.
The little charity that could…
I can remember it well. In 2002, a small group of inner city educators, as well as a few of us in other occupations, met in the staff room at Queen Alexandra Elementary, one of Vancouver’s neediest inner city schools. Our goal was to establish a community-based charitable foundation to fund programs helping children and youth living in poverty in Vancouver. The educators around the table had taken time out of their packed schedules to be there – because they saw too many kids falling through cracks and knew it was having serious effects on their lives.
CLICK was officially launched in 2004 and 10 years later we’re still here. We’re small compared to the charitable foundations that are top-of-mind for many people – but we’re making a difference on the ground, in kids’ lives. Our volunteer board has directed a quarter of a million dollars to more than 150 programs that make a critical difference to kids facing the massive obstacles that come with living in poverty.
Thanks to all of you who have supported, and continue to support CLICK. BC has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, and without Vancouverites who care about them, kids living in poverty are highly vulnerable. They deserve our support – they deserve the chance to thrive, feel great about themselves and succeed in life.
Thanks for caring,
Helping inner city kids a no-brainer for principal Beverly Seed As someone who has spent 21 years as a school administrator, Beverly Seed has a keen understanding of what young people need to thrive and succeed in life. Her years as a principal at Britannia Secondary, an inner city school in Vancouver, gave her first-hand experience of the struggles of youth who live in poverty.
“These kids haven’t been dealt a fair hand. They have few options in life so they need help and opportunities to fill their time in positive ways,” says Beverly, currently principal at Vancouver Technical Secondary.
Beverly describes her years at Britannia as “a unique experience in her entire education career”. She discovered inner city youth were appreciative, hard-working and modest and wanted to give back to the community. What also inspired her was how the adults, including teaching and support staff, rallied together to help students in need and at risk. “The adults saw how far these kids can go with support so they gave a huge amount of their personal time to help kids,” she says.
A regular CLICK donor, Beverly believes strongly that Vancouverites must face the problem of child poverty in our city. She saw working-poor parents trying to support their families in minimum wage jobs, and saw students working to help pay for rent and food for their family.
“It’s wrong to ignore poverty in our own backyard. These kids are part of our community and can’t succeed by
themselves,” she says.
Thanks to our UBC Dashers!
Marketing students from the UBC Sauder School of Business, pictured above, recently held an “Urban Dash” fundraiser for CLICK. The fleet-footed students managed to raise $950 for programs for inner city children and youth funded by CLICK.
Thanks to our Sponsors and Partners
Get your Blue Kid pin
Support CLICK by purchasing a Blue Kid pin! Wear it proudly to show you care about inner city kids in Vancouver. You can order your pin from any CLICK board member or by emailing:
Did you know that BC now has the highest child poverty rate in Canada? Our child poverty rate is 18.6% —the worst of any province in Canada.
The children supported by CLICK live for the most part in working poor families struggling to provide the basics – there is no money for the opportunities that allow kids to gain the skills and self-confidence to eventually break out of the cycle of poverty.
These are the children CLICK has supported over the last 10 years, through our funding of more than 150 programs for at-risk children and youth in Vancouver. Unfortunately, 10 years later, we need your help more than ever.
Will you give $10 a month to help an inner city kid?
To mark CLICK’s 10th anniversary, we are asking supporters to commit to donating $10 a month for the next 12 months. It’s easy to set up an automatic deduction online. You’ll get a tax receipt, and the satisfaction of knowing you did something special this year.
And a Vancouver kid will get the chance of a better future. That’s a lot of return for a little investment, don’t you think?
Here is a PDF version of the Spring 2014 Newsletter